One of my very first Thread & Pen posts was about Quiltfolk, a stunning coffee-table quarterly devoted to the craft’s people and culture. Hubby discovered the magazine in Barnes & Noble last spring, and I was an instant fan. I loved the photography. The stories. The intimate insight into pockets of the community I hadn’t found anywhere else. I even loved that it was printed on thicker, card stock-like paper, a presentation suited to its overall sophistication. I so enjoyed that Iowa issue, I literally didn’t want it to end. I’d read a little each night, then force myself to put it aside so that I could enjoy a little more the next day. And before launching my blog, when I was brainstorming potential posts, Quiltfolk was an automatic early contender. Because I just couldn’t wait to talk about it!
Talk about it I did, and shortly after doing so, I received an email from Michael McCormick, Quiltfolk’s founder and editor in chief. Their social media manager had found my blog post via Instagram, and he wrote to graciously thank me for spreading the QF love—and ask if I’d be interested in writing for them. The primary reason I started Thread & Pen was to meld my two favorite creative worlds, so when Mike reached out, I was thrilled. I mean, to visit quilters around the country? To hear their stories—and then write about them for others to enjoy? It wasn’t just a wonderful opportunity. It was a privilege.
Less than three weeks later, we were on the road for Issue 05! The timing was perfect, as the team was traveling to eastern MA, a very easy trip from my home on Long Island’s North Fork. We all—Mike, editorial director Shalena, and photographer Leah—met in Boston and went from there. Over the next 30 or so jam-packed hours, we headed into the heart of the city, up to the artsy commuter town of Lynn, over to Bolton, a charming New England community 45 minutes west of Boston, and even across the border, into New Hampshire. Ours was the team’s first travel leg, and it was a very happy whirlwind enhanced by the actual wind (and rain and crazy humidity) of Hurricane Jose, which had enveloped the area in a soggy, muggy embrace. But the Quiltfolk team is beyond dedicated and, I quickly learned, undeterred. I’m pretty sure Mike didn’t even notice the rain smacking people like wet towels as we canvased the streets surrounding Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, and the Old North Church in search of photo ops!
For my first Quiltfolk foray, I was assigned two stories. The first was a profile on quilter Michael Skiles, who was incredibly warm and welcoming—particularly since he’d just moved into a new apartment and was still getting settled! Surrounded by quilts, with live music from neighboring buildings in the background and Boston Coffee Cake in hand, we had a lovely time chatting. Michael abides by the general belief that if something calls for one cup of butter, then two cups is better, and this recipe for success has ensured a colorful creative journey. I was personally inspired by his dedication to the craft, and to the quilting community as a whole.
My second piece was about the Quilted Crow shop and West Pond Inn retreat space, both in Bolton and owned by Sue Loring. I plan to write a separate post about meeting Sue, touring her businesses, and learning her story, because I was profoundly moved by the experience. Suffice it to say for now that within ten minutes of our introduction, she was fighting (happy) tears and I was wondering if it was too soon to give her a hug! She’s a very special person doing some very special things for quilters and women in general, and I was truly honored to meet her and share her story with Quiltfolk readers. And as a fabric fanatic, I’m now a huge fan of the Crow! In fact, my husband and I made a point of stopping in on our way back from vacation in New Hampshire a few weeks after my initial visit. And you can bet I whipped out the wallet and supported the shop the way it deserves!
I also loved visiting Country Heritage Tours in Bedford, NH. This family-owned and -operated business (which Shalena tells readers all about in Issue 05) offers quilt-centric group tours throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Participants, who often travel as quilting buddies, experience new shops, museums, and shows while enjoying local sights and flavor. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll make the Ultimate Road to California…but there’s always Paris and Switzerland later this year! (Can you even imagine??)
Though my Quiltfolk road trip was brief, it was long enough to confirm a long-held belief: quilting nourishes the soul. I heard it in Michael’s voice as he talked about the quilt he made for victims of the Pulse nightclub tragedy, and saw it in his smile as he showed us the beloved Double Wedding Ring quilt his grandmother made his parents. I heard it in Sue’s voice, too, which wavered as she talked about her life’s work and the path that led her there, and in the happy laughter and chatter of dozens of customers who streamed into the Quilted Crow during our visit. I also saw it the faces of those customers, all of whom knew each other by name, and who clearly felt that the instant they walked through those doors, they were home.
Most of all, I felt it. The warmth. The connection. The feeling that though our chapters may be different, we’re all part of the same story. One told in both words and stitches. And I’m so grateful to Quiltfolk for bringing us together.
Of course, my experience was only one small part of the team’s adventure, and there are so many other wonderful quilters to read about. So do check out Issue 05! And here are a few behind-the-scenes pics to enjoy in the meantime.
Thanks for visiting! Have a wonderful weekend!